Writing Combat


I’m not afraid of mountain lions in the abstract. But when I saw the handout over the sink outdoors with a list of “How-tos” in the event of meeting a mountain lion, say, at the sink outdoors, it gave me pause.

mount madonna

As a city girl, I battle the urban jungle every day—the would-be muggers hiding in the parking lot of the BART station, the aggressive panhandlers lurking near the espresso cart on Market street, the crazed driver who doesn’t look for pedestrians as she zooms down my street and onto Highway 24—but I don’t have a lot of contact with animals (other than my own children) until I go away on a quiet writing retreat.

I’m no stranger when it comes to battling with wild animals. In Squaw Valley two summers ago I learned how to shame a bear into leaving the property (You say, “Bad bear! Bad bear!”) The bear I saw was actually a baby bear. (I thought it was a monkey at first but I figured it out.)

In Wisconsin last winter I learned what to do when there are hornets coming out of the walls in the dead of winter. (You leave the room). That was at Faith’s Lodge at Kate Hopper’s winter Motherhood & Words retreat.

Last summer on Madeline Island (at Kate’s summer retreat) I learned how to pick wood ticks off your jeans. And today I’ve learned that the best thing to do when approached by a mountain lion is to make yourself as big as possible, pick up small children, and if the mountain lion attacks, fight back.

All writing retreats. So it turns out that writing can be a dangerous endeavor. And not just to your ego and your 401k plan. Wish me luck this weekend. I’m going to need it.

(I’m happy to report that I didn’t see any wild animals at Green Gulch unless you count those Zen Buddhists who are always frothing at the mouth. And none at Lit Camp other than the those party animals in the hot tub. But those guys were harmless.)


4 thoughts on “Writing Combat

  1. Yikes! Don’t think I’ll come out of my house for awhile! I knew that writing was dangerous. Thanks for a good read.

    • Indoor-writing can be dangerous, too, Lorrie! Specially when the cat sits on your keyboard. Although I suppose that’s not really on the same scale as a mountain lion.

  2. Sue

    So I guess a retreat near me I’m the mountains and Grizzley bears is out. May your writing be the only wild thing this time.

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